In December, Melissa McCafferty bravely shared her story of survival and advocacy for military sexual assault survivors with the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. As a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, she recounted the traumatic experiences she faced during her time in the service, including being sexually assaulted by male cadets and witnessing the mistreatment of a classmate who reported a rape.

McCafferty’s testimony shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault within the military and the challenges survivors face in seeking help and justice. Despite the emotional toll of her experiences, she remained dedicated to public service and continued to support her colleagues who were victims of assault.

Growing up in a small community in Michigan, McCafferty was inspired by her mother’s commitment to public service and learned the value of helping others. Her passion for serving her community led her to join the Coast Guard, where she found fulfillment in the mission of assisting people in need.

Throughout her military career, McCafferty served in various roles, from combating drug and human trafficking to responding to natural disasters. Despite her dedication to her work, the trauma of her sexual assaults took a toll on her mental health, leading to a suicide attempt in 2017.

With the support of her loved ones and medical professionals, McCafferty embarked on a journey of recovery and resilience. She pursued further education, worked in disaster prevention and recovery efforts, and eventually transitioned to a career in law, where she continued her advocacy for survivors of sexual assault.

Now a law clerk at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C., McCafferty remains committed to supporting survivors of military sexual assault and advocating for their rights. Her courage in sharing her story and her dedication to helping others serve as an inspiration to those around her.

As a member of the ABA, McCafferty continues to contribute to the legal community and use her voice to speak out against injustice. Her story serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, resilience, and advocacy in supporting survivors of sexual assault and creating a safer, more just society for all.